If you are visiting South Africa then this is a must taste, it is a classic for the country residents. Just like American have their own delicacies, which is the case with every region across the world, South Africans identify their culture with these strips of meat.
One of the ways of representing culture is through food; Biltong does not represent this nation any lesser. It describes their love for fine things and artistic nature that is evident in food.
Most people compare biltong to the American Jerky. Similarities of the two delicacies can only be on basis of meat; however, the quantity and preparation styles even the appearance of it is different. Americans only use thin strips of meat, which is heavily spiced. This is opposite to the South African dish. Biltong has a lot of fat because of the big chunks of meat, which is cut from specific animal parts.
Why it is special?
Biltong is not any other meat served in weddings and social gatherings; in fact, you can only find this kind of meat in specific restaurants with special cooks and butchers. Take this as a hint of its price. Biltong moisture content and thickness, distinguishes it from other dry meat dishes.
It can be served with any starch or protein; you can either eat it dry or make stew out of the fat. The type of ingredients is dependent on the cook; people differ when it comes hence the flexibility when it comes to this classic South African dish. You can also eat it independently; it is a dish on its own.
Some like the Biltong to be moist while some prefer it to be dry. It all depends with how you intend to serve; if you serve as a main dish, it is should be preferably dry. If you choose to serve it as an accompaniment, make it moist. Be sure to maintain the crunchy element even when serving in moist form.
If you are married, you better agree on individual preferences to avoid disappointments on the dining table. As mentioned, it is a classic dish meaning it is served in classic occasions where value is attached. Therefore, making it according to individual preferences is crucial to enhancing mood of the party.
Biltong can be spied with colors. Pink is my favorite color between the strips of meat. The pinkish color is attractive as it reminds you this is meat. You might also want to balance the fat level. However, this does not mean reducing the quantity of meat on each peace; make sure the cuts are big enough as it is with original South African culture. If you watch people enjoying this delicacy, they are more of munching and sinking their incisors into the meat other than stripping pieces like in any other meat dish.
To Biltong, keep away the knife and fork. First, it is a traditional food, which means modern and high-end dining habits are not recognized. Eat it like natives in South Africa to get a feel of the delicacy. Be sure to clean up your hands with a moist towel and pick the meat pieces one by one. Don’t worry about it spreading to your cheeks, it is part of the fun. The only issue with this bare hand technique is temperature of the meat pieces.
Nevertheless, you have the liberty to serve and eat the delicacy in whichever way. Whether you like it dry where strips of meat fall apart or you enjoy it extremely soft where you exercise your incisors. The first time for you to taste Biltong should be among South African natives to experience the attached cultural value to the delicacy.
Typical Biltong recipe
I must say it is a shame if you don’t know to make biltong on your own.(funny version) Although it is associated with South Africans and they are due of all credit, it is renowned internationally, which makes it a must for you. It is depressing if you cannot afford, which is why you should learn to do it yourself.
Surprise your family and loved ones with few pieces on a dinner as you watch television. It is can also be a good treat in your kid’s lunch box as they go to school. It is quite simple as demonstrated below.
- Cut the meat into desired strip sizes. If you prefer it moist then be generous with the strips; if you want it dry, make the strips thinner but lose the originality of the delicacy, which is lots of fat.
- Next, mix up salt, coriander, pepper, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, and any other spices you like and rub them together to form a mixture. You are free to explore your creativity in this stage. After your spice mixture is done, rub it into every strip of meat then spray vinegar to layer the meat. Be sure to wipe off excess salt.
- Wrap the meat and mixture for at least 12 hours depending on the flavor and thickness of the meat strips.
- Find a cool and aerated location where you can hang your meat strips to give it the dark exterior. You can leave it for two days. Be sure to test and determine whether you need it to stay longer or it’s ready to serve. Be sure to cover with a net to keep off bugs.
Editorial by Saffatrading
Saffatrading.co.za is a South African food export store located in South Africa. Saffatrading serves traditional South African food products to expats livings aboard. Food products include traditional South African biltong, bottled food products and even South African merchandise.